Skip to main content

PhD Study in Fine Art, and PhD study in Art History

Newcastle University offers both research-led and practice-led PhD degrees: PhD in Fine Art, and PhD in Art History.

Postgraduate Research - PhD

Postgraduate Research Programme in Fine Art, Digital Cultures and Art History

We welcome proposals from prospective students who wish to undertake a PhD with us.  We support a wide range of both theoretical and studio-based practice and research in Fine Art, Digital Cultures and Art History. Many of our PhD students are artists who are using their art practice as the basis of their PhD project.

Prospective PhD students may propose a research project that is practice-led or a research project that is solely research and text-based.

A practice-led PhD would require three/four years of full-time study (or six years part-time). The final submission for the PhD would normally be a combination of an exhibition of creative work made over the period of study/research and an accompanying written critical text. The written part of the submission would typically be 30,000 words, which constitutes approximately 30% of the degree.

A text-based PhD would require three/four years of study (or six years part-time) and the final submission would typically be a thesis of 80,000 words.

PhD applicants should normally have completed a master’s level course prior to their PhD. This requirement, in exceptional cases, may be wavered if it can be demonstrated that the student has equivalent research and other skills.

We particularly welcome research proposals from students who will benefit from the specific research expertise of individual members of staff within Fine Art and Art History.  Research students can also benefit from the resources and training available through, for example, the Institute for Creative Arts Practice, and the expertise of Culture Lab, a multi-user digital media facility that supports interdisciplinary research at the interface of art, digital cultures, humanities and science.

In addition, we also welcome proposals that would benefit from the extraordinary range of resources, supervision and interdisciplinary research opportunities that are available across the School of Arts and Cultures and the university as a whole. As part of the Northern Bridge Consortium, this potential extends to supervisors from our partner institutions: Durham, Teesside, Northumbria, Ulster, Queen's Belfast and Sunderland Universities.

Supervision, Researcher Development Training and Seminars

Supervisors appropriate for your research project are allocated from within Fine Art, and if required, from elsewhere in the university, following discussion with the student about the proposed research project. Your 'supervisory team' usually consists of three members of staff. All staff are research-active professionals, artists, researchers and academics, and thus provide up-to-date practice-led teaching, supervision and professional experience and knowledge.

Throughout your time here, we encourage you to exhibit your work in appropriate venues and attend and make presentations at our regular postgraduate seminars, which aim to encourage intellectual and practical exchange between academic staff, our visiting artists and students. We also very much encourage our postgraduate research students to present at external conferences and symposia.

The Fine Art Research Student Seminar Programme includes subject-specific lectures and an evolving programme of seminars and round-table discussions that inform and contextualise research and provide subject-specific research training. These also offer the opportunity for doctoral researchers to exchange ideas and engage in conversation across disciplines with staff, fellow students and visiting artists, scholars, curators and critics.

Throughout their studies, extensive support and training in research methods is provided by both the Institute for Creative Arts Practice and the Faculty Postgraduate Research Training Programme. This is available to full-time and part-time research students in the humanities and social sciences at Newcastle University throughout their time studying for their research degree. It provides training in professional/key skills, research techniques and supports both personal and intellectual development.

How to Apply

We would also strongly advise you if possible to contact the Head of Postgraduate Studies in order to discuss your proposed research project before submitting a formal application to the university.  We would also advise you to make yourself aware of the staff's research interests and the facilities within the department, so that you are sure that Newcastle is able to offer appropriate expertise and project supervision.  

We would ask you to first submit an initial research proposal of 1,000–1,500 words along with visual documentation of your work, if appropriate. We can then discuss the feasibility of your proposal and indicate whether we might be able to support your project with the appropriate resources and supervisors. We would also be able to indicate whether there is any specific information, documentation or change to the proposal that we would require before your formal application is submitted.

The research proposal needs to be well-written, clear and jargon-free. There is no strict template for the structure of the proposal. However, it is recommended that applicants include the following information:

  • A provisional title, which might for example be in the form of a research question;
  • A short introduction, if appropriate, to your current art practice and how the proposed project has developed from it;
  • An introduction to the research theme/idea (and, where appropriate, an initial review of other practice-based work or other research in this area) to set the scene;
  • An initial 'research question' that the research will aim to answer or enage with, or a thematic to be explored;
  • An outline of the kinds of studio practice or methodology that will be used to achieve the research aims and help answer the research question;
  • Initial reasons why the research is important to pursue - both to yourself and more broadly;
  • How have your prior qualifications and/or professional experience equipped you for doctoral study - in terms of the studio practice, research skills and subject knowledge that might be needed to undertake the project;
  • Why is your project particularly suited to being investigated at Newcastle? Which staff do you think would be appropriate to supervise your project and what resources are needed for your research?

Please contact our Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Ed Juler, if you have any questions.

Full details on how to apply


The Northern Bridge Consortium is a Doctoral Training Partnership funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

It offers up to 67 fully-funded studentships per year to outstanding postgraduate researchers across the full range of Arts and Humanities subjects, including Creative Practice disciplines.

The consortium brings together the cutting-edge expertise and exceptional resources of Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Queen’s University Belfast, Sunderland University, Teesside University and Ulster University and their strategic external partners.

Please visit the Northern Bridge Consortium website for further information.

Please contact our Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Ed Juler, if you have any questions.